Global Investing

The Dow: A long way down

U.S. stock indices hit an 11-year low on Feb. 23, as stocks continued their sharp decline from the peak of 2007. This chart looks at some key events that helped to drive stocks down over the last 16 months.U.S. stock indices hit an 11-year low on Feb. 23, as stocks continued their sharp decline from the peak of 2007. This chart looks at some key events that helped to drive stocks down over the last 16 months. Warning: This may cause post-traumatic flashbacks in some investors.1 – Oct. 9 2007U.S. stocks rose to record highs on speculation the Federal Reserve was on course to cut borrowing costs further to revive economic growth. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 120.80 points, or 0.86 percent, to end at 14,164.53, a record.2 – Oct. 19 2007Caterpillar Inc.’s warning that the housing slump was infecting the wider economy sent U.S. stocks tumbling by the most in more than two months, in a drop that was made more unnerving as it marked the 20th anniversary of the 1987 market crash.The Dow fell 366.94 points, or 2.64%, to end at 13,522.02.3 – Feb. 5, 2008U.S. stocks suffered their biggest drop in nearly a year after the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index data showed the worst monthly contraction in the services sector since the last U.S. recession and Standard & Poor’s warned it could cut bank credit ratings.The Dow had its biggest drop since the indicator was created in 1997, down 370.03 points, or 2.93 percent. Settling at 12,265.13, the index was at its lowest level since October 2001, aggravating fears that a recession was at hand.4 – June 6, 2008U.S. stocks extended losses as surging oil prices fueled inflation fears, adding to concerns sparked by a government report that showed the unemployment rate had its sharpest rise in 22 years in May.The Dow fell 3.13 percent to close at 12,209.815 – Sept. 29, 2008Stocks tumbled after the U.S. House of Representatives voted against a compromise bailout plan that would have let the Treasury Department buy toxic assets from struggling banks. House Republicans, in particular, balked at spending so much taxpayer money just before the Nov. 4 U.S. elections.The Dow fell 6.98 percent to 10,365.45 points.6 – Oct. 15, 2008Wall Street had its worst day since the 1987 stock market crash, as bleak economic data fed worries that efforts to unlock credit markets might not stave off a severe recession. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke added to those concerns when he said the economy faced a “significant threat” from paralyzed credit markets.The Dow fell 7.87 percent to 8,577.91.7 – Dec. 1, 2008U.S. bank stocks suffered their biggest one-day decline in the current financial crisis, on expectations a deepening global economic slump would reduce employment, crimp access to credit and spur more writedowns.The Dow fell 7.7 pct to 8,149.09- Chris Sanders

from MacroScope:

Political poster child?

George Alogoskoufis is a hardly a household name outside Greece and EU financial circles. But the newly sacked Greek finance minister could yet become a poster child for politicans struggling to fight off economic decline and banking industry collapse. His demise was in large part due to a public perception that he was helping out the banks but ignoring rising joblessness.

Greece, of course, is a special case at the moment, still recovering from riots over the police shooting of a teenager. But finance ministers, central bankers and other responsibles are probably not immune from Alogoskoufis Syndrome. Balancing the need to bail out the finance industry with rising economic misery among everyday people is not easy. Fat cats are not exactly in favour at the moment.

This could, indeed, come to a head later in the year. Investment cycles tend to recover before economic ones. So what happens when Wall Street, the City and the like start bringing in the money again just as unemployment lines start getting even longer?